I have had some time off work over the Christmas period and this coincided with the arrival of a new mountain bike that is very different to the bicycles I own already. I have taken to it with more than a little enthusiasm and have enjoyed being able to tackle routes not considered previously. Perhaps having this new toy and wanting to keep myself occupied over Christmas I decided to have a go at the 'Rapha 500.'
The 'Rapha 500' was a challenge the clothing company of the same name made to customers back in 2010 to cycle 500km on the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. I have not participated in this during previous years but with a new bicycle and new possibilities wanted to this year.
|Grand Union Canal|
Lots of people have taken up the challenge but the weather has not been wonderful during the past few days with fog and ice on the road. More than a few have come off their bikes. My plan was a rather simple one. I would use my mountain bike as much as possible on surfaces that were best suited to its ample attributes - off road.
|Off-road easy on a mountain bike|
Setting off each morning I only took the bare essentials. This consisted of:
- 1 x inner tube
- 2 x CO2 bottles
- 1 x CO2 inflator
- Small high pressure pump (with duct tape wrapped around)
- Tyre levers
- Emergency tyre boot
- Pack of pre-glued patches
- Light rain jacket
- 1 x multitool
- Small amount of cash
- Credit card
- Front/rear lights
- Garmin Edge 820
I didn't bother with a water bottle as I knew that I would be able to find somewhere I could buy a cup of tea. A camera was also left at home as I had the iPhone if I wanted to take a picture.
One early Christmas present was a 'Quad Lock' case and bicycle mount for my iPhone. This has been brilliant and allowed me to see where I am on a map at all times, get turn by turn directions - if required - via google maps and work hand in hand with the navigational features of my Garmin 820. As a result I have actually been able to cycle into uncharted territory with greater confidence and without getting hopelessly lost.
Knowing that I take too many photos when cycling as stated I decided not to take a separate camera. If I did I would be a great deal slower, so I rationed myself to a few photos using my iPhone. As the protective cover was on the phone most of the time to keep it from being splashed with mud - something you have to get used to when cycling off-road on a mountain bike - I couldn't be bothered to faff around with it.
Almost all of my Rapha 500 km's were off-road and on the Grand Union Canal. My longest journey was from my home to Little Venice, then back out as far as Berkhamsted and finally home. This was a particular favourite which I completed twice.
When passing Ladbrook Grove I passed Kensal Green Cemetery - where both of my parents had their funeral service. As always when cycling alone ones mind races with all sorts of things. I could imagine my dads wheezing laugh if he had of been told of me cycling on a mountain bicycle along the Grand Union Canal for a small piece of cloth - you may or may not get in the post - to sew onto a cycling jersey or similar.
|Kensal Green Cemetery|
When trying to make up the miles of an evening, I would complete circuits of my local area. I mainly did this on my Condor road bike but also enlisted my trusty P-type Brompton. In all I was able to cycle around 80 km a day. This combined with me getting lost and therefore adding a few additional miles in order to get back on track resulted in me completing the challenge with a day to spare.
My new mountain bike has clocked up the most miles towards reaching the Rapha 500 challenge and I have enjoyed getting to know the new addition to the stable. It is a brilliant bike and I can see us becoming close friends. My Condor road bike is just lovely on the open road, swiftly gliding over any distance and my Whyte is I suppose the the off-road equivalent. I also love the fact that I have done most of the miles on a mountain bike - not perhaps the image that comes to mind when thinking of Rapha!
I have enjoyed the challenge of doing the Rapha 500 on many levels and sure that in better weather my off-road adventures along the Grand Union Canal and Thames will be tweaked and added to. I think that this time next year I would also like to give this another go. My cycling has obviously wained in 2016 and I hope that 2017 will see me back on track somewhat.
Some of you out there have already entered into 2017 but I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year. Keep cycling and make sure that you go on adventures of your own.